Putting the Grouse in Glasses
Utilising a unique marketing strategy to engage the optical lens market, we take a look at CR Surfacing Laboratories and speak to the company’s Director, Adam Fletcher, about the latest in the industry
Writer: Marcus Kääpä | Project Manager: Callam Waller
Australia is one country that has had to weather the brunt of COVID-19 for longer than most, with some places having been placed in lockdown since January of 2020. When it comes to conducting business, it is safe to say that a lot has had to change.
“We have been lucky to have never needed to lay off staff or do anything as drastic as that; we have always been able to manage through some of the worst times the country has faced,” begins Adam Fletcher, Director of CR Surfacing Laboratories (CRSL). “COVID-19 has been a little different, but we have focused on safeguarding our team to make sure they are all safe and well. We have always been a family business and our team mean everything to us.”
CR Surfacing Laboratories
CRSL was established in 1976 by Fletcher’s father, Ray Geake, and it currently stands as the oldest and largest independent optical lens manufacturer and supplier in Australia. Traditionally having started with the production of glass lenses, Fletcher’s father had innovatively moved the company forward to manufacture plastic lens products in line with a contract gained from the Royal Australian Air Force. From this point on, the business grew substantially.
“When I first joined the company there were only eight employees, and we have now expanded to a nationwide team of 53,” Fletcher reflects. “We remain very innovative in the lens manufacturing space and have done ever since we were the first plastic lens producers in the country.
“Whenever there is a new technology in the field, CRSL invests in it, whether that is moving from plastic to polycarbonate lenses, or progressive manufacturing technologies, we aim to give our customers the best options on the market.”
Both endurance and an innovative nature are the dual strengths that keep CRSL at the forefront of the industry, however it is also the company’s nature as a long-standing Australian business, and this consequential familiarity and reliability, that maintains its positive standing with localised customers.
“Our laboratory is also one of the most technologically advanced in the world, and being a nimble business is certainly one of our key attributes,” Fletcher informs us. “Being able to deliver consistency and turnaround times means we smash our competitors in terms of our delivery times.
“But in my opinion, the main advantage we have is our brilliant people!”
Behind the company
CRSL holds its team in very high regard, and the same goes for its external suppliers; businesses that CRSL relies on to ensure the fluidity of operations to the overall benefit of all, including the customers.
“We don’t call them suppliers, we call them partners,” Fletcher affirms. “This isn’t because we have any equity in their businesses or anything like that, but it’s more because we have a long-standing partnership between these businesses and work very well together.
“We rely on them for service and very rarely do any problems arise between us. Their high-level services are reflected in the premiums – we are not the cheapest option in Australia by a long mile – but we guarantee good quality reliable service and products.”
And on the same level, CRSL operates with a dedicated workforce of expert employees that sees the company continue to succeed into the present. It is the CRSL team that spearhead the newest and best strategies through which to move the company forward representing the best in optical lens manufacturing in Australia.
“I truly believe that we have some of the best people working for us,” Fletcher tells us proudly. “Our team is critical to the company, and we are very fortunate to have such an amazing team. We hold them in very high regard; they are the beating heart of the business.”
Recently, CRSL has utilised a brand new and unique marketing strategy in the promotion of its latest product, the photochromic lens coating; an optical lens that remains clear until exposed to natural light, at which point it darkens in accordance with the level of UV light exposure, protecting the user’s eyes and ensuring a comfortable and clear vision.
“It’s called Grouse,” Fletcher muses. “So, with these kinds of new products that are driven by more science and tech, you often get companies giving them very boring names to make them sounds scientific and futuristic. Instead of following something mundane, from an advertising perspective, we wanted to stand out and be a little different.
“In Australia you get a lot of beach and surfer slang that ties itself into the culture, and over here, everyone knows that the term ‘grouse’ means something positive, like ‘unreal’, ‘fantastic’, ‘awesome’ - things like that. So, we added this word ‘grouse’ to the product, and you can imagine it in a real setting – a friend comments on your new glasses and you can turn around and say: ‘they’re grouse’. It sells the product while linking to something that everybody understands.
“The CRSL team and the opticians that we work with loved it. The product sells itself, but now the name is also memorable and fun.”
This innovative and playful marketing strategy has granted CRSL an opportunity to reach out to the individual in the market, promoting a new product in a brand-new form and paving the way for strategies in the future.
Looking ahead, CRSL is planning to enter the new year with expansion plans derived from coming investments. The expansion process will envelop new technologies and increase efficiency across the business.
“We have also created a brand called Australis, a name taken from ‘Terra Australis’, that is Australia itself,” Fletcher elaborates. “The first Australis lenses are multifocal designs, but the portfolio will be expanding to digital single vision and special-use lenses in the near future. There is a lot of sentiment towards supporting local business, and Australis is branded under the name of our own country. We are hoping to create a sense of belonging in our communities.
“We are going to use that to launch the brand across TV, radio and billboard media, and our objective is to create retail opportunities through this as well as give independent opticians an identity associated with the brand to strengthen the future of both CRSL and the independent business, and therefore the Australian economy.”